Sometimes, you just don’t want to talk to anyone, and that includes your handy virtual assistant Alexa. And while Amazon‘s famous helper is indeed voice-activated, she doesn’t always have to be. Meet Silent Echo, a new bot that lets you chat with Alexa using Slack. And that means that you can type instead of talk.
It’s a useful feature for a number of situations — even if you’re not feeling antisocial, there are certainly situations in which a typed command could be more useful than a spoken one. If you’re in a noisy environment or want to stage a surprise, this new bot could come in handy. That said, Silent Echo doesn’t allow you to do everything that Alexa can do. For example, you won’t be able to control any music devices, nor will you be able to use Alexa skills that, as TechCrunch describes, “require multiple turns due to its short session times.”
However, there are plenty of things that Silent Echo can do. You can control smart home devices, and if you’re an Alexa developer, you can even test some of your nascent skills using this new bot on Slack. Once you’ve installed the bot within the messaging service, just directly message the service or call it using @silentecho.
The bot comes from voice apps company Bespoken, and it’s technically an unofficial method of using Alexa. But as John Kelvie, Bespoken’s founder and CEO told TechCrunch, the technology relies on “openly available routines.” “We are not doing anything sneaky or relying on any private APIs or loopholes,” he noted.
Silent Echo has already proven quite popular, which has been something of a surprise to Kelvie and the Bespoken team. “We’re already in 35 different Slack communities, and we’ve got over 1,000 users,” he said. And given that the bot was only publicly introduced in mid-July, that’s pretty impressive.
“It’s spreading rapidly,” Kelvia added, and further suggested that other integrations could be coming soon. “It does make me feel optimistic about the uptake we’ll get for a Twitter version,” he said. And that version could be made available in a matter of days.